After more than two years of preparation and training, the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade officially assumed its overseas mission as Task Force Phoenix during a ceremony to transfer authority at Camp Bühring in Kuwait.
For the next nine months, the task force will deploy full-spectrum aviation operations for US Central Command’s Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.
“The way to get here was not easy – but we overcame all challenges and faced them straight away with a smile,” said Colonel Alan Gronewold, commander of Task Force Phoenix, in a speech during the ceremony. “Each of you made a sacrifice to be here, as did your families, friends, and co-workers. I am grateful for all that you have done so far and I am grateful for all that you will do. “
For many on the task force, this isn’t their first tour here. The 40th CAB Headquarters and two of its battalions were deployed in Iraq from 2010-2011 in support of Operation New Dawn. For this mission, the 40th CAB Headquarters was the command element for the largest CAB in history, which was responsible for the entire operational area of Iraq. The 40th CAB returned to the Middle East in 2015-2016 to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.
The 40th CAB units at all levels have deployed a total of 25 times since 1998 to support Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. This makes the 40th CAB the most frequently used brigade in the California National Guard.
“The challenge ahead of us is enormous: We cover the battlefield in two different theaters in five countries and in 13 locations and do so with fewer personnel and aircraft than anyone else in front of us,” said Gronewold during his speech. “But we’re ready – that’s what we’re doing.”
Task Force Phoenix is bringing an impressive number of aircraft into the fight against Daesh and ISIS. The program includes UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial systems. In total, the task force comprises National Guard units from nine states and a combat helicopter battalion from the US Army on active duty.
Read more at CENTCOM
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